The Come Up: The Importance Of Rest Day Explained


Rest days are critical to sports performance for a variety of reasons. Some are physiological and some are psychological. Rest is physically necessary so that the muscles can repair, rebuild, and strengthen. For recreational athletes, building in rest days can help maintain a better balance between home, work, and fitness goals.

Regardless of the type of training, whether that may be bodybuilding, powerlifting, or sport specific training; to optimise performance in competition training must be intense and boundaries must be pushed. This will cause fatigue in muscles and microscopic muscle breakdown which will lead to DOMS- Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, which can usually last from 24-72 hours post training. 

A very common misconception with athletes is that they think the body grows and gets stronger by training, however this breaks the muscles down which leads to Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and creates a stimulus for the body to rebuild and repair in order to become stronger. The body rebuilds and recovers when nutrition is optimal- providing the body with required macro and micronutrients. The other aspect required for the body to rebuild is rest. If training is consistent then sleep is usually not enough, rest days must be implemented where the athletes will abstain from training and similar physical activities.  This provides a physical and mental refresh for the athlete, allowing them to stay motivated and refreshed for their upcoming training sessions.

This is where rest days are important because it gives those muscles and your body time to repair itself. In fact, sleep is equally important because your body’s growth hormone production increases which helps repair and rebuild those muscles.

  1. Allows time for recovery

Contrary to some beliefs, a rest day isn’t about being lazy on the couch. It’s during this time that the beneficial effects of exercise take place. Specifically, rest is essential for muscle growth. 

Exercise creates microscopic tears in your muscle tissue. But during rest, cells called fibroblasts repair it. This helps the tissue heal and grow, resulting in stronger muscles.

Also, your muscles store carbohydrates in the form of glycogen. During exercise, your body breaks down glycogen to fuel your workout. Rest gives your body time to replenish these energy stores before your next workout.

  1. Prevents muscle fatigue 

Rest is necessary for avoiding exercise-induced fatigue. Remember, exercise depletes your muscles’ glycogen levels. If these stores aren’t replaced, you’ll experience muscle fatigue and soreness. 

Plus, your muscles need glycogen to function, even when you’re not working out. By getting adequate rest, you’ll prevent fatigue by letting your glycogen stores refill. 

  1. Reduces risk of injury

Regular rest is essential for staying safe during exercise. When your body is overworked, you’ll be more likely to fall out of form, drop a weight, or take a wrong step.

Overtraining also exposes your muscles to repetitive stress and strain. This increases the risk of overuse injuries, forcing you to take more rest days than planned. 

  1. Improves performance

When you don’t get enough rest, it can be hard to do your normal routine, let alone challenge yourself. For example, you might be less motivated to do an extra rep or run another mile.

Even if you push yourself, overtraining decreases your performance. You may experience reduced endurance, slow reaction times, and poor agility.

Rest has the opposite effect. It increases energy and prevents fatigue, which prepares your body for consistently successful workouts. 

  1. Supports healthy sleep

While regular exercise can improve your sleep, taking rest days is also helpful.

Physical activity increases energy-boosting hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Constant exercise, however, overproduces these hormones. You’ll have a hard time getting quality sleep, which only worsens fatigue and exhaustion.

Rest can help you get better sleep by letting your hormones return to a normal, balanced state.